In times of desperation, every man turns to something comforting. This might be a woman, an old jumper or a lovely bottle of booze. Or it might be a big, shiny, fast powerful and irrationally expensive new car. Except your favourite new toy needn’t be the second dearest thing you’ll ever buy, after your house. Thanks to our buddies at Parker’s, we’ve dug up ten of the cheapest quality motors you will ever find. Because nothing makes money troubles go away faster than acting as if you've got loads of it.

1/ Alfa Romeo 156 GTA
2002/52 70,000 miles
Typical price: £4000
Price when new: £26,695

Alfa Romeo shoehorned a charismatic 3.2-litre V6 engine into the stunning 156 saloon in 2002 for the launch of the GTA. Clever suspension tweaks allowed a degree of finesse delivering 240bhp through the front wheels, and the earliest well kept examples can be found around the £4000 mark.

 

2/ Jaguar XK8 4.0
1997/P 60,000 miles
Typical price: £5000
Price when new: £49,620

The Jaguar XK8 might have had more appeal for Jaguar’s traditional audience when new, but at £5000 for a low-mileage early example with a full Jaguar service history from a private seller gives a whole new range of buyers access to this beautiful V8 engined smoothie.

 

3/ Porsche Boxster 2.5
1998/S 80,000 miles
Typical price: £7500
Price when new: £34,125

There’s no shortage of cheap early Boxsters, but many have high mileage and are low on kit. But even if you look for those with optional leather seats and air conditioning you can find great examples for the same price as a new city runabout. The Boxster will have almost as much boot space as a typical small car, too.

 

4/ Lotus Elise
1998/S 50,000 miles
Typical price: £8000
Price when new: £21,875

The Elise’s lightweight body makes the most of the 118bhp engine fitted to the standard first-generation cars. It means lightning quick acceleration and unlike most sportscars, 40mpg can be achieved when you’re not thrashing it. Expect to pay £8000 for the best low-ish mileage 10-year-old examples.

 

5/ BMW Z4 2.5i SE
2003/53 65,000 miles
Typical price: £8500
Price when new: £26,655

The dramatic looking Z4 comes with the fastest electric folding roof on the market, allowing a switch to wind-in-the-hair motoring in record time. Earliest models came with silky six-cylinder engines, and it’s possible to find an average mileage 2.5i SE for about £8500.

 

6/ Maserati 3200 FH auto
2000/W 60,000 miles
Typical price: £10,000
Price when new: £62,756

Maserati was winning races around the world before Enzo Ferrari had built his first car. The first truly desirable Maserati of the modern era was the 3200 GT. Named after the size of its twin-turbo V8 engine, its boomerang-style LED rear lights set off its sleek coupé profile. Expect to pay from £10,000 for a low-mileage 2000 car.

 

7/ Aston Martin DB7 FH auto
1997/P 85,000 miles
Typical price: £16,750
Price when new: £82,645

The Aston DB7 stands comparison among the most beautiful cars ever designed, and although these early six-cylinder models are not as desirable as the later V12s, they are less complex to maintain and still exude charm. You can find mint 12-year-old examples with unmarked interiors for the price of a mid-spec new Ford Mondeo.

 

8/ Mercedes-Benz SL500
2003/03 50,000 miles
Typical price: £17,500
Price when new: £69,615

The SL launched in 2003 with its long bonnet harked back to great Mercedes-Benz sportscars of the 1950s. It’s possible to find SL500 models with the 306bhp V8 engine launched in 2003 for the price of a one-year-old C-Class. The two-piece electrically folding hard roof fits neatly in the boot.

 

9/ Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2.7 TDV6
2005/05 60,000 miles
Typical price: £20,000
Price when new: £35,000

Values of 4x4s took a pummelling during 2008, and although the market has started to pick up again there are still bargains galore. The Range Rover Sport was once the hottest 4x4 on the market, but now a bling version with the sensible diesel engine underneath can be found for less than a new Freelander.

 

10/ Bentley Continental GT
2004/04 60,000 miles
Typical price: £40,000
Price when new: £110,198

Beloved by Premiership footballers the Conti GT is around in significant enough numbers to make them more accessible than you might think. The earliest ones now retail for about a third of their original cost and you can find cars with sensible mileage for the price of a top BMW 3-Series Coupé.